Labour and Fine Gael are at odds over how much money is available for a claimed “rainy day” economic fund, just hours out from what is to be the expected launch of the general election campaign.

The Government parties’ plans for a buffer zone fund to ensure any potential future financial crisis can be overcome differ by as much as €600m — a gap that could have implications for how much money is available for separate tax cuts and service spending.

Speaking at the party’s weekend ard fhéis in Mullingar, senior Labour figures told the Irish Examiner the party will announce a €1.9bn budget stabilisation fund at its election manifesto launch next week.

The row comes hours before Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to call the long-awaited general election either tomorrow or Wednesday.

Tánaiste Joan Burton gave the clearest hint yesterday, saying: “The Taoiseach and I meet early on a Tuesday, and all I can say is I anticipate it will be very soon.”

Meanwhile, both Mr Kenny and Ms Burton have come under criticism from ex-Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell over reports they may pull out of live TV debates if other leaders have equal speaking time.

Mr McDowell said he would be “scared of Enda Kenny saying he’s not going to debate” given the growing world economy turbulence.

Latest polls show Fine Gael are on 29 (+1), Labour 10 (+1), Sinn Féin 19 (no change), Fianna Fáil 17 (-2), Independents 16, Anti-Austerity Alliance/People before Profit 3, Greens 3, Social Democrats 2, and Renua 1.

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